Charles Leclerc heads Ferrari 1-2 in opening Bahrain Grand Prix practice

Charles Leclerc put Ferrari on top of the timesheets as he led a 1-2 during opening practice for Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari comfortably topped the 90-minute session which took place in hot and sunny conditions, compared to the cooler evening weather encountered in qualifying and the race.

Leclerc finished the session with a time of 1:30.354 – as the front-runners all employed Pirelli’s Soft tyres – ensuring he wound up 0.263s clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel and Ferrari have triumphed in Bahrain across the last two seasons.

Mercedes, which controlled the weekend’s action in Australia, finished third and fourth respectively, with championship leader Valtteri Bottas third fastest, albeit 0.974s down on Leclerc.

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished a few tenths further adrift having run wide through the final corner on his best lap.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen briefly led the session before being shuffled down to fifth position, 1.3s behind Leclerc, with team-mate Pierre Gasly close behind in sixth.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. used a new Internal Combustion Engine, MGU-H, MGU-K and Turbocharger to good use – after his Australia retirement – to lead the midfield group in seventh position.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg finished within a tenth of Sainz Jr. in eighth and was involved in a bizarre incident in the closing stages when he and Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi made contact through Turn 7.

Giovinazzi gestured his frustration at the slow-moving Hulkenberg and the duo collided, briefly tipping Giovinazzi's car into the air, though both were able to return to the pit lane.

Daniil Kvyat built on Toro Rosso's encouraging early-season form to place ninth.

Kimi Raikkonen, who had a close call with Sainz Jr. through Turn 11 and another close shave with Alexander Albon at Turn 8, rounded out the top 10 for Alfa Romeo, marginally ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Haas topped the midfield pecking order in Australia but had a low-key showing in FP1 as Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean mustered only 12th and 17th respectively, the Frenchman sustaining front wing damage in the closing stages.

They were split by Toro Rosso’s Albon, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi.

Lance Stroll suffered an early setback when he spun through the exit of Turn 4 and clipped the barriers on the inside of the circuit.

Stroll was able to recover his Racing Point RP19 to the pit lane and returned to set a representative lap, but finished over half a second down on Haas driver Grosjean.

Williams again brought up the rear of the field as its struggles continued, albeit having used the Medium compound tyres as opposed to the Softs adopted by their opponents.

George Russell briefly reported a loss of power and spun through Turn 2 en route to 19th spot while team-mate Robert Kubica finished at the back of the pack in the sister FW42.

The pair were separated by just 0.065s but Russell finished over six-tenths down on Stroll, and 1.2s off Grosjean.

Friday’s second 90-minute practice session will begin at 18:00 local time

Bahrain - Practice 1

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Flag   Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.354 20
2 Flag   Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:30.617 0.263 21
3 Flag   Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.328 0.974 26
4 Flag   Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.601 1.247 23
5 Flag   Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:31.673 1.319 21
6 Flag   Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1:31.815 1.461 17
7 Flag   Carlos Sainz McLaren 1:31.952 1.598 28
8 Flag   Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:32.040 1.686 17
9 Flag   Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:32.339 1.985 24
10 Flag   Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:32.385 2.031 23
11 Flag   Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:32.401 2.047 19
12 Flag   Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:32.602 2.248 21
13 Flag   Alexander Albon Toro Rosso 1:32.874 2.520 24
14 Flag   Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:32.885 2.531 20
15 Flag   Lando Norris McLaren 1:32.945 2.591 29
16 Flag   Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:32.949 2.595 22
17 Flag   Romain Grosjean Haas 1:32.994 2.640 22
18 Flag   Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:33.518 3.164 16
19 Flag   George Russell Williams 1:34.188 3.834 26
20 Flag   Robert Kubica Williams 1:34.253 3.899 27